HRIC has received an urgent appeal from sources in Thailand regarding Chinese democracy activist Lu Decheng. The sources told HRIC that Lu Decheng will be repatriated by the Thai government tomorrow, December 14, 2004. According to HRIC sources, the Thai authorities arrested Lu Decheng on December 12 at 3 pm in a Catholic Church in Bangkok while having a meeting with other democracy activists. Ten others were arrested at the same time, but other than Lu Decheng and Zhao Wendong, all were quickly released. The Thai authorities told Lu Decheng that they were to have a meeting with him on December 13, and then repatriate him to China the following day. Our sources urge HRIC to contact the Chinese ambassador immediately.
In 1989, Lu Decheng, together with Yu Zijian and Yu Dongyue traveled from Hunan to Beijing to participate in the democracy movement. The three men defaced the portrait of Mao Zedong that hangs over Tiananmen Square in an act of protest. After the June 4 incident, Lu was sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment for that act; Yu Zijian was sentenced to life imprisonment, and Yu Dongyue was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment. These sentences were among the harshest given to the 1989 democracy activists, and the three men are recognized by the international dissident community as having committed one of the most meaningful acts of dissent against the Chinese autocracy.
Lu Decheng fled from China to Thailand one month ago, and through the help of international human rights organizations and the Chinese dissident community. Lu has applied to the UNHCR to be classified as refugee. Supporting affidavits have already been sent to UNHCR. Lu Decheng has been scheduled to interview with the UNHCR for his refugee classification application. Mr. Lu’s refugee application number is 19729. Lu Decheng stated publicly that if the Thai authorities insisted on repatriating him back to China, in contravention of international human rights law, he will die rather than being sent back.
HRIC is very concerned about Lu Decheng’s urgent situation. “The Thai government should abide by the non-refoulement policy as required by international human rights conventions while Lu Decheng’s status for refugee is being considered. We condemn any repatriation attempts by the Thai government,” stated Li Qing, President of HRIC. HRIC appeals to the international community to monitor the situation and to pressure the Thai government to ensure the safety of the Chinese democracy activists pending a final determination by UNHCR.